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Injured athlete home from hospital

by Chuck Smock

Douglas senior Jason Jarrett was released from Washoe Medical Center on Tuesday, eight days after suffering a serious head injury while practicing the pole vault.

Family members, friends and neighbors welcomed Jarrett home with an impromptu party Tuesday afternoon. Shortly after the accident, doctors speculated that Jarrett would have to spend as long as two weeks in the hospital.

“When the doctor came by last night and told me I might be able to come home (Tuesday), it made my day,” said Jarrett, who spent his final morning in the hospital walking around and giving away some of the balloons he had received from well-wishers. “Overall, my body feels fine. If I try to move my head too fast, I get a slight headache. If I move slow, it’s fine.”

Jarrett, 18, was injured on April 3 while practicing at Incline High School. He was flown by CareFlight to Washoe Medical Center, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit in serious condition.

Jarrett’s father, Mike, owned the Douglas High pole vault record for 20 years and has coached the sport for years. He’s well aware of the potential dangers involved with pole vaulting, but said he didn’t fear for his son’s safety.

“Jason and Chris (Chappell) are two of the most controlled vaulters I’ve ever seen or coached,” Mike Jarrett said Tuesday. “Jason had never crashed.

“When I heard he was injured, I was horrified. We weren’t sure if we were going to have a son.”

In the first 72 hours after the accident, Jason was able to remain conscious for only a few minutes at a time. And then on Thursday night, when his aunt and cousin were visiting, he stayed awake for 20 minutes and was able to carry on a conversation. From that point on, Jason’s rapid recovery amazed his doctors and nurses.

In fact, Jason – an accomplished juggler who often entertains fellow athletes at track meets while waiting for his chance to pole vault – was already able to juggle four balls by the time he got home Tuesday.

“We’ve got him back and it’s a real blessing,” Mike Jarrett said. “We know a lot of people were thinking about him and praying for him. We really appreciate all the support. It’s very heart-warming.”

Jason said he’s not sure when he’ll return to school, but he said he might be able to attend classes as early as Friday.

And he said he’s not planning to let the accident end his dream of pole vaulting in the zone and state tournaments in his final year of high school competition.

“I’ll be jumping real soon,” he said, before admitting he wasn’t sure what his doctors thought of his plan. “I’d like to be back at Incline jumping in two weeks. I’ll take it slow and eventually I’ll be jumping better than ever.”

Mike Jarrett, too, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Jason made a successful return to pole vaulting, although he thinks his son’s timetable might be a bit optimistic.

“I would say it’s up to him,” Mike said. “It’s such a fun thing to do. I wouldn’t tell him he couldn’t do it. It’s in the blood.”